Auron ka hai Payaam aur, mera Payaam aur hai, / Ishq key dardmand ka tarz-e-kalaam aur hai! (Iqbal)
Anyone, who is blessed to be able to look at the Qur’an with unbiased eyes, and study it with a mind and spirit untainted by the impurities of hate and prejudice, can readily see how the Qur’an is nothing less than direct communication from the master of the worlds to the worlds that he makes and manages.
It is almost not possible to have a genuinely open and unbiased mind and not be struck with wonder and awe by the Qur’an at every step for all that the Qur’an offers in terms of both syntax and semantics, that is, language and diction as well as meaning and connotation.
That is the inevitable conclusion that is forced upon us by a simple assessment of reality as it stands right now. It is also the overwhelming weight of historical evidence and testimony over the past 1400 years.
As a result, a mind with basic elements of decency and fairness still intact can see without much difficulty that the Qur’an is also the highest and absolutely the best and most perfect means and mode for us mortals to communicate with our immortal master and creator.
Anything anyone may want to say to God, or ask of him in the form of a blessing or boon or gift, the Qur’an says better than what anyone would think possible. Words and passages of the Qur’an are insuperable in the beauty of their diction and construction on the one hand and in the depth, aptness and profoundness of their meaning and implication on the other hand.
That means no statement of fact we wish to make; no thought we want to give utterance to; no advice or admonition we would like to offer; no feelings or emotions we would like to express; no scenes we would like to describe; no story we would want to tell; no wish we would like to make; no good things we would like to ask; no bad outcomes we would like to avoid and be safe from; and no prayer we would like to utter can possibly come out sounding better or clearer or more precise or powerful than the way the Qur’an frames and phrases them.
If you don’t believe me, sit down with me and I will show it to you: prayer by prayer; invocation by invocation; chant by chant; construction by construction; statement by statement; word by word; item by item.
That is how self-revealing the power, majesty and accessibility of the Qur’an is. That is the simple miracle of the Qur’an for all unbiased observers to behold right in front of their eyes.
THE MOST AMAZING LANGUAGE
There is absolutely no doubt that the Qur’an is the most amazing document you or anyone else will ever see. It simply cannot be matched, replicated or even approximated. This is not a profession or declaration of personal faith by a naïve and wide-eyed believer but a studied and responsible public testimony of an observed or empirical fact by someone trained at the highest university level – and with a lifetime experience of providing training to others – in language, literature as well as scientific methodology and empirical analysis among other things.
In fact, we have conducted some interesting informal experiments at editing and improving selected passages from the Qur’an and failed.
During Dr. Pasha’s International Qur’an Programme, we often asked people, many with Ph.D.s in various disciplines, to edit, change and improve passages of the Qur’an. In every case, the results turned out to be disastrous.
For, the edited versions that people produced not only significantly detracted from the grandeur and magnificence of the original, both in terms of text and meaning, but in many cases they turned out to be outright caricatures of the original.
But why go that far? Why go to the highest and best form of communication that is in existence, namely, the Qur’an? Instead, why not try and edit and improve some of the more outstanding examples of ordinary human communication such as poetry, whether in the beautiful Muslim and Islamic language of English; or in the beautiful Muslim and Islamic language of Urdu; or in the beautiful Muslim and Islamic language of Farsi or Persian; or in the most beautiful Muslim and Islamic language of Arabic, which God himself chose to reveal his Qur’an in?
I am not trying to steal any language away from anyone. I am simply laying a claim to all of these languages, and to all other languages of the world, as part of divine design, and, therefore, as part of the legitimate patrimony of the Muslims and all the rest of the believers in one God – if Muslims will only wake up and smell the tea and the roses.
IF YOU HAVE DOUBT, EDIT THIS!
If you have a problem with what I am saying then why not try and edit and improve the following textual examples from communication that is all too human – in Urdu, Farsi, Arabic and English. Identify the ideas and imageries underlying these passages and restate them better or equally well in your own words.
Go ahead and try it and see what comes out. I did not arrive at my conclusions lightly.
Example One – an Urdu couplet.
Jaan dee, dee huwee usee kee thee; / Haq to yeh hai ki haq adaa na huwaa!
Example Two – an Arabic couplet.
A-laa laa yajhalan ahadun ‘alainaa; / Fa-najhala fauqa jahlil jaahileena!
Example Three – a Farsi or Persian couplet.
Dar dasht-e-junoon-e-maa jibreel zaboon saiday; / Yazdaan ba kamand aawar ay himmat-e-mardaanah!
Example Four – Shakespeare in Hamlet.
“To be or not to be – that is the question!”
ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THE QUR’AN
Example Five – English translations of the Qur’an.
If you still have trouble believing what I am saying about the unrivalled power and majesty of the Qur’an, all you need to do is pick up a copy of any of the famous translations of the Qur’an in English and see where they stand in comparison to the original Arabic text.
I am not familiar with some of the newer ones, so, I cannot comment upon them. The ones I am talking about are some of the older ones that have been around for a long time.
Even though you really need to be a master of both Arabic and English languages, and preferably also have a strong background in some of the Qur’anic sciences such as Hadith and Tafsir, to arrive at sound conclusions, a good grasp of the English language alone will in many cases raise serious questions in your mind about how far removed the translations are from the original text.
No, my characterisation of Hadith as a Qur’anic science is not inadvertent. To me it is self-evident that there can be no better commentary of the Qur’an than the Hadith – mostly words of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. Scholars of Islam generally consider the Hadith as the second most important commentary on the Qur’an, next only to the Qur’an itself, parts of which provide a most amazing and miraculous commentary on some other parts.
Example Six – An English translation of Shikwah and Jawaab-e-Shikwah by Iqbal.
But why go that far and use a translation of divine communication as an example? Why not just pick up a copy of the English translation from Urdu of Iqbal’s all-too-human Shikwah and Jawaab-e-Shikwah by Kushwant Singh and see for yourself.
Singh is a renowned author, journalist and linguist and his translation is hailed by many as the best. But, as I said earlier, read it carefully and judge for yourself. See if it comes anywhere near the original and how in more than one place the English translation seems to miss the point of the original Urdu text completely.
Of course to be able to make that judgment you need to be very, very good not only in English but also in Urdu and Farsi.
But the broad point I am making is this: Anyone with an unbiased mind can see that as communication Qur’an is in a class all by itself. There is nothing like it in the annals of human thought and discourse. Nor can anyone produce anything like it no matter how hard they try.
This is an empirical conclusion and it is inescapably forced upon us by facts on the table regardless of whether or not someone believes the Qur’an is from God.